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The 1950s--A Decade Collection

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Social Studies Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This is a topical collection about American life and politics in the 1950s. Resources in this collection might be helpful to students and teachers working on projects about the decade. It is not meant to be completely comprehensive, but rather includes highlights of the Smithsonian's collection spanning art, popular culture, social trends, leadership, and technology.

Teachers and students might copy and adapt this collection to suit their needs; highlighting a specific aspect of life in the 1950s and adding annotations and additional resources.

Early 1950's, Jitterbugs

Smithsonian American Art Museum

DuMont "Revere" Television Receiver

National Museum of American History

Gunsmoke Lunch Box

National Museum of American History

33c I Love Lucy single

National Postal Museum

William J. Levitt

National Portrait Gallery

Large Capacity Shopping Cart

National Museum of American History

33c GI Bill single

National Postal Museum

Marilyn Monroe

National Portrait Gallery

Marilyn Monroe

National Portrait Gallery

33c Post-war Baby Boom single

National Postal Museum

Dr. Benjamin Spock

National Portrait Gallery

IBM "THINK" Sign

National Museum of American History

Eisenhower Campaign Compact

National Museum of American History

Dwight D. Eisenhower

National Museum of American History

Diner's Club Card

National Museum of American History

Newspaper clipping, McDonald's Menu

National Museum of American History

Children's Plate, Howard Johnson's

National Museum of American History

1955 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon

National Museum of American History

Family Photo Album

National Museum of American History

Microscope and Lab Set

National Museum of American History

Family Fallout Shelter

National Museum of American History

Sound Recording

National Museum of American History

UFO Lunch Box

National Museum of American History

Bertolli Chianti Bottle

National Museum of American History

Joseph McCarthy

National Portrait Gallery

Army-McCarthy Hearings

National Portrait Gallery

22c Korean War Veterans single

National Postal Museum

Peanuts

National Portrait Gallery

20c Harry S. Truman single

National Postal Museum

J. D. Salinger

National Portrait Gallery

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

National Portrait Gallery

The Shah of Iran

National Portrait Gallery

Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer

National Museum of American History

Nuclear Testing, Bikini Island

National Museum of American History

Earl Warren

National Portrait Gallery

Thurgood Marshall

National Portrait Gallery

Untitled (Bus)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Martin Luther King, Jr.

National Portrait Gallery

Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.

National Portrait Gallery

Document Deep Dive: Rosa Parks's Arrest Record

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Reverend Ralph David Abernathy

National Portrait Gallery

[Pin, ALF-CIO Conference on Unemployment]

Anacostia Community Museum

Bill Haley and The Comets

National Portrait Gallery

James Dean

National Portrait Gallery

Jackson Pollock at work

Archives of American Art

Launching the Space Race

National Air and Space Museum

Satellite, Vanguard TV 3

National Air and Space Museum

Eisenhower Sends Troops to Little Rock

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Desegregation of Central High School Little Rock, AR

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Bonanza Lunch Box

National Museum of American History

The Golden ABC

National Museum of American History

4c 48-Star Flag single

National Postal Museum

Khrushchev visits Hollywood

National Museum of American History

Campbell's Soup Company

National Museum of American History

7-Up

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Three Discs

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Blue, Orange, Red

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Roy Lichtenstein

National Portrait Gallery

Felt hat with medallion worn by Bo Diddley

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Frank Sinatra

National Portrait Gallery

Nat "King" Cole

National Portrait Gallery

Betty Friedan

National Portrait Gallery

Tray

National Museum of American History

Superman, “The Girl Cops of Metropolis”

National Museum of American History

Stillman house I, kitchen

Archives of American Art

Alexander Calder

Archives of American Art

Homemaker

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

BBQ Tray

National Museum of American History